The 2019-2021 Wisconsin State Legislative Session brings some anticipated and many unanticipated legislative policy opportunities to our attention. The SWSA takes positions on some of the key legislative items and will track these positions for our members. The SWSA Bill Tracker document can be viewed here: SWSA Bill Tracker
SWSA also encourages members to utilize the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) bill tracking feature on their website to find all current legislation that is active in both the Wisconsin Assembly and the Senate. The link to WASB's state bill tracking chart can be found at: WASB State Bill Tracking Chart
Additional Information for SWSA Members:
- Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding (1_4_19)
- Joint Finance Committee Members Email Addresses
Written comments can also be emailed to the Joint Finance committee at BudgetComments@legis.wisconsin.gov or sent via U.S. mail to: Joe Malkasian, Room 305 East, State Capitol, Madison, WI 53702.
Recent Wins & What We've Done
Team of SWSA Members met with DPI State Superintendent on October 24, 2019
A team from the SWSA comprised of superintendents, board members, and business managers met with the DPI State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor in Milwaukee on October 24, 2019. This team also met Assistant State Superintendent Keona Jones and special assistant to the state superintendent Latoya Holiday.
This was a great first meeting with the state superintendent! We had an opportunity to share some successes and challenges facing our districts. The state superintendent shared some of the items they are considering for the next state budget and they align with the SWSA legislative platform. The state superintendent is looking for other issue areas that are priorities for our districts.
Representative Evan Goyke (Milwaukee) meets with the SWSA on July 9, 2019
On July 9, 2019, Representative Evan Goyke (Milwaukee) met with the SWSA membership. We invited Rep. Goyke to share his experience on the Joint Finance Committee as well as to share ideas about how our organization might increase the impact of our advocacy efforts.
Rep. Goyke is a lawyer, an instructor at Marquette University and a former assistant public defender. He was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2012 serving the Milwaukee area. Rep. Goyke served on the Joint Finance Committee during this past budget cycle. Representative Goyke's State Legislature Webpage
SWSA Members Meet with Charles Franklin and Alan Borsuk on July 29, 2019
On July 29, 2019 16 superintendents, board members, and one business manager from SWSA met with Charles Franklin and Alan Borsuk at the Marquette Law School.
The goal of the meeting was to delve deeper into poll data and have a more in-depth conversation about K-12 issues and discuss recent advocacy efforts. A recap of this meeting can be found here: Borsuk/Franklin & SWSA Meeting July 29, 2019
Charles Franklin is a nationally recognized government scholar and pollster. He has been the director of the Marquette Law School Poll since its inception in 2012 and became a full time member of the faculty in 2013.
Alan Borsuk is best known for his reporting on education issues and also serves as a senior fellow in law and public policy at the Marquette Law School. Alan writes a weekly column about education, appearing Sundays in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
SWSA Members Testify at Joint Finance Committee Hearings Across the State!
On April 10, 2019, several superintendents and board members from SWSA testified at the Oak Creek Joint Finance Committee hearing to share their position about Governor Evers' proposed state budget. Districts who attended the hearing were Brown Deer, Whitnall, Muskego-Norway, Kenosha, Oak Creek-Franklin, South Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Schools, and St. Francis.
Several other districts including Kettle Moraine (testified in Janesville), Shorewood (testified inGreen Bay), and Racine Unified (testified in Green Bay) have attended other hearings across the state.
Many districts are submitting written testimony to the Joint Finance Committee as well.
Terri Phillips, SWSA Executive Director testified on behalf of the entire organization and her testimony can be found on the link below.
Education Academy 101: Demystifying School Finance (March 21, 2019)
On March 21, 2019, Business Managers and Superintendents from across the state came together to hold a half-day workshop for legislators and their staff on school finance. This workshop was designed to be a "straight forward, spin-free talk" on school finance led by experts in the field. This workshop also featured a special guest speaker, Bob Soldner from DPI.
The goal of this workshop was to help legislators and their staff build an understanding of basic school finance concepts so they are prepared to make informed decisions during the biennial budget cycle.
SWSA spearheaded this effort and partnered with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB), Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance (WiRSA), Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN), and the School Administrators Alliance(SAA).
- Blaise Paul, South Milwaukee Business Manager
- Shawn Yde, Whitefish Bay Business Manager
- John Gahan, Pewaukee Business Manager
- Tom Wermuth, River Valley Superintendent
- Brian Krey, River Valley Superintendent
- Bob Soldner, Assistant State Superintendent for Finance and Mgt., DPI
- John Stellmacher, Hartford Jt. 1, Business Manager
- Ben Niehaus, Florence County Superintendent
- Shawna Lindow, CPA and Financial Mgr., of School Districts Niagara and Florence
The full presentations can be found below:
The handouts that were distributed can be found below:
- Education Academy 2019 Agenda
- WI Policy Forum ELL
- Wisconsin Policy Forum Special Education Brief
- Special population handout
- Education Academy 101 worksheet
- Education Academy 101 worksheet answerkey
- Appendix C SNSP 2019-20
SWSA hosts panel and discussion about teacher pipeline with the Deans of Greater Milwaukee
On March 12, 2019, SWSA hosted a panel discussion with the Deans of Greater Milwaukee to discuss the challenges facing Wisconsin and the country regarding teacher pipeline.
The morning began with a panel discussion with the deans to share their perspectives on the issue. This panel was then followed with small group break outs to delve into the topic a little deeper.
SWSA and the deans are committed identifying areas where we can work together to improve the outlook for the teacher pipeline.
School Boards across Wisconsin Passing Resolutions to Increase Special Education Reimbursement Rate to 90%
School boards across the state are passing resolutions to increase the reimbursement rate to 90% for special needs students, matching the reimbursement rate given to private schools under the legislated Special Needs Scholarship Program.
The federal government has stated a commitment to fund 40% of the costs of supporting students with special needs, but funds only 15%. In addition, Wisconsin had statutory language to fund over 60% of costs related to these students, but now funds merely 26%. The state of Wisconsin has not increased funding in public school special education categorical aid for over a decade.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau concluded that because of historic under funding of the state and federal government, public school districts must now fund over $1 billion to cover the educational costs associated with implementing Individualized Education Programs for students with special needs. As a result of under funding these critical services for students with special needs, public schools districts across Wisconsin transfer funds from their general fund to make up the gap.
SWSA is collecting resolutions from all over the state (including many in our own membership) and storing them in a google drive. Click on the link to see who has passed these resolutions and please feel free to use the resolution language for your district.
Please click on the link below to view a map that can inform you as to the positive fiscal impact of this increase on your own district.
- Congratulations to Deb Kerr, Superintendent of Brown Deer Schools as she was recently sworn in as the 2019-2020 president of the AASA (the national Superintendents Association). Deb is a tremendous advocate for children and provides SWSA with a national perspective on issues facing K-12 education. Deb, thank you for your leadership and congratulations!
- Congratulations to Lisa Elliott, Superintendent of the Greenfield School District! Lisa was elected as the Co-Chair Elect for SWSA and will begin serving a one-year "co-chair elect" position beginning immediately. She will assume the SWSA Co-Chair role beginning July 1, 2020. Thanks for your service Lisa!